Jeffrey Epstein: US opens inquiry into light sentence for wealthy sexual abuser

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Plea deal, involving attorney who became Trump’s labor secretary, saw financier avoid severe penalty for abusing girls

The justice department has opened an investigation into federal prosecutors’ handling of a plea deal in which a wealthy, politically connected Florida financier avoided potentially severe penalties for sexually abusing teenage girls in favor of a relatively light state conviction.

The department’s Office of Professional Responsibility wrote in a letter Wednesday to the Republican senator Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, that it would examine whether professional misconduct occurred in the highly publicized case of Jeffrey Epstein. The letter cited a series of recent articles by the Miami Herald that focused new attention on how the deal came about.

Sasse, a member of the Senate judiciary committee who has twice asked the justice department to investigate the case, welcomed the news.

“Jeffrey Epstein is a child rapist and there’s not a single mom or dad in America who shouldn’t be horrified by the fact that he received a pathetically soft sentence,” Sasse said in an email. “The victims of Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring deserve this investigation and so do the American people and members of law enforcement who work to put these kinds of monsters behind bars.”

Epstein, now 66, reached a non-prosecution deal in 2008 with the office of the then-Miami US attorney, Alexander Acosta, to secretly end a federal sex abuse investigation involving at least 40 teenage girls that could have landed him behind bars for life. He instead pleaded guilty to state charges, spent 13 months in jail, paid settlements to victims and is a registered sex offender.

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